Internet giant Google has come under fire from around the world this week, after removing the name Palestine from Google Maps and replacing it with Israel. Interestingly, international mainstream corporate media has completely blacked out any coverage of the incident or the global outrage it has sparked.
— 7amleh حملة (@7amleh) August 4, 2016
The Palestinian Journalists Forum (PJF), in a statement released on Friday in the Middle East Monitor, condemned Google’s decision to remove Palestine from its maps, saying it “is part of the Israeli scheme to establish its name as a legitimate state for generations to come and abolish Palestine once and for all.”
The group says the removal of Palestine’s name from the Google Maps was a blatant attempt to undermine Palestinian statehood forever and claims the move is just another attempt to distort history and geography.
“The move is also designed to falsify history, geography as well as the Palestinian people’s right to their homeland, and a failed attempt to tamper with the memory of Palestinians and Arabs as well as the world,” the statement added.
In addition, the group demanded that Google reverse the name changes made on July 25, noting that the move was “contrary to all international norms and conventions.”
Most of the areas claimed by the State of Palestine have been occupied by Israel since 1967 in the aftermath of the Six-Day War. Its independence was declared on November 15, 1988, by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Algiers as a government-in-exile.
When the keyword Palestine searched in Google Maps it directs you to Gaza, Judea and Samaria marked with a broken borderline, but nothing labeled Palestine.
This marks a dramatic reversal of course for Google, as it was only in May 2013, that Google “recognized” Palestine by changing the text of its Palestinian homepage from “Palestinian territories,” to “Palestine” — pushing the idea of Palestinian statehood into unprecedented reaches.
As of September 2015, 136 (70.5%) of the 193 member states of the United Nations and two non-member states have recognized the State of Palestine. Many of the countries that do not recognize a State of Palestine nevertheless recognize the PLO as the “representative of the Palestinian people.”
It must also be noted that historically the United States has used its superpower status and leverage, through the Foreign Assistance Act and other measures, to discourage other states and international organizations from extending recognition of Palestinian statehood at the behest of the Israeli government.
Make no mistake that this latest move by Google is an intentional act meant to undermine the idea of Palestinian statehood, and reveals Israel as having an inordinate amount of leverage over U.S. corporate and governmental decision-making.
A petition to restore Palestine to Google Maps on Change.org has gathered over 150,000 signatures as of Monday, and the Twitter hashtag #BoycottGoogle has begun trending on the social media site.
— Anwar Prince (@AnwarPrince14) August 8, 2016
“The omission of Palestine is a grievous insult to the people of Palestine and undermines the efforts of the millions of people who are involved in the campaign to secure Palestinian independence and freedom from Israeli occupation and oppression,” and “Whether intentionally or otherwise, Google is making itself complicit in the Israeli government’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine,” reads the petition.
More than 750,000 Palestinians have been displaced since the foundation of Israel in 1948, and Jerusalem continues to expand its illegal settlements into the West Bank.
One of the biggest factors underpinning U.S. support for this reality is the “Israel Lobby,” arguably the most powerful special interest group in the United States.
The lobby has been able to skew American foreign policy away from U.S. national interest while simultaneously convincing the American public that its goals are aligned with that of America.